Friday, 30 March 2018

We Know What We Are- A series of short stories written by Russ Litten.

Hello 
Welcome back
I'm currently on a break but we'll discover all about that later

Arriving home I had a pending meeting with 
Russ Litten 

I first met Russ whilst working for 
The Hull Pie

The Hull Pie is a firm pie institution, I remember serving pie many a time.
I thought one time he'd left a book, ran down to the girls and told them he'd left a book.
Back then I had no idea who Russ was, the girls told me Russ is a writer.

Time went by and eventually, I got to know more about Russ, we've got many mutual friends and it was apparent Russ is a talented man and well thought of.

I reached out to Russ upon the release of his latest book, I wanted to know more and ask him many things.

The cover as a Hull girl speaks volumes
It's the City colours
It's his lad on the cover 
and it's true Hull
WE KNOW WHAT WE ARE
Is a shout out to the City of Culture
I can hear it in the Hull accent shouted 
Oi mate we know what we are, you don't need to bloody tell us!    
Hull can be gritty, brash and right in your face but don't be fooled we'll bring you a bloody good cuppa and chat your ears off.

We know what we are starts out in proper Hull, I fucking love that.
Look I am a #HullGirl I even use the hashtag on my Instagram.
You know when you read and there's that voice in your head, Russ has written so anyone even none Hull reads Hull. 

The book is set into short stories, perfect for someone like me.
Short bursts of highs that really bring you in, enthralment, excitement and stories I would place exactly in Hull.

We begin with 
BLADE
Firstly, I needed to add that I knew little of this book and nearly always start any project with little knowledge because I feel that reading too much about anything beforehand can ruin something with so much potential.
I worry that I would or will rewrite something that's already being written.

Initially, I thought Russ was the homeless character and felt shocked but something didn't add up. Why would Russ be in Victoria Square in a sleeping bag? Is he part of a project for awareness?
I kept on reading, nope the character is female Johnner is her "friend".
Their friendship is something we can all relate to, a comfort and love that is not bounded but cherished and fought for through thick, thin and brutality of life.
Johnner defo has a lifelong friend in this woman, the blade was entering Victoria square where was Johnner?
This short story develops fast into a fury to find him, a tale of true fear of losing someone and the fight that entails finding him.
I don't want to ruin anything so I am going to hold back because you need to read it, invest some time, curl up and read this book.

The Light that lights the dark

At first, I thought this was a story of a pimp and a prostitute, a man laying out a woman's clothes?  
That was quite a nieve thought but then it transcended into a story of a woman who was blind and her husband was/is her carer.

What I love when reading these short stories is the relevance to everything being local.
If this story is true, I could be passing these people, sitting by them or seeing them every day and not even know.

There's a frustration within this story and it's exactly how you'd imagine the loss of sight to be.
Dark, grating, annoying, thankfulness and aggression.
My greatest pleasure with this specific story was in the deep almost slowed explanation and definition. 
I can imagine being in the room with the lady, the image of her, the feel of the room and atmosphere around the couple.

I went on to really get into this book, which is a progression throughout the year of the city of culture.
A book that's about people that the city of culture year didn't really effect with great enthusiasm for what was next. 
What will be read, how will I feel?

A circus poster on a Chinese wall

I found this one the most intriguing, maybe because it was relatable which was unnerving however also poignant of a city such as Hull's legacy.

There's a family, with a token family member, a Chinese meal and a boy with aspirations.
Those aspirations are short-lived, turned to negative tones and stopped by money.
He's sat daydreaming in a Chinese, thinking of his life, what he could be, what the people around him are and reverts back to his dream. I think deep down that lad loves and loved playing football.

The saying "big wow" made me smile, you see this story could be set anywhere and that saying I am in no doubts is said all over the world but that phrase to me is Hull.
That's why this book is set in concrete, it's home, it's Hull.
And yes we know who we are!

SLOWLY

Describing HU5 which is my neighborhood a couple is at odds, she wants to end it and he wants to control it.
Ring any bells?
Louise is on her way to end it, she's planning it out mapping it word for word, she's done.
Then she see's an old lady, a lady who looks like she needs help.

Now if you're in HU5 you'll know us good folk help after all Ella Street is the most friendly street in the whole city you won't be shocked Louise helped this lady.
I let out this sigh, a comforting encumposing gush of happiness.
Russ tells me this is exactly what happened to him, I asked if it was a Hull thing and he went on to say he thought empathy is within us all at the root.
I want to agree and I want to hope and pray we all have good in us like Lousie.

Ignoring calls from her husband she took a slow walk to get this lady home, I think every step gave her room to think over her life, time to digest, a time she didn't think she had.
The story is a gentle reflection of kindness, thoughtfulness and selfless act's we all do.

I think you should read this book, I don't want to give it all away and whilst I am here to review and I guess reveal I feel deep down I'd ruin something truly showing Hull's magic.

There's one story that's brutal, frightening and something I fear is a real underbelly of society.
The story is called Working away I felt a deep worry, imagery and panic, bloodshed and death.
Compelling reading from Russ'es writing, grasping and clutches of pages, fears of risen anger all rolled up into one short story.

I need some time to finish this accumulation, I need a breath, a second and then I will delve again.
I just wanted to get this out there, I wanted you all to know it exists and to start your very own journey into the streets of Hull and the mind of Russ Litten.

If you'd like to hear Russ who'd done a collab with Steve Cobby follow the link
Eleven tracks ready to buy


Here also is a full bounty if Russe's work to date

Thanks to Russ Litten for his time, 
his words 
and laughs around my kitchen table.

A further blog to follow upon completion of reading.

I went back to read more of the book
WE KNOW WHO WE ARE

In conclusion of all the short stories truth and fiction I can say I identify, I can see us all in the characters. 

There are moments I feel safe, at ease and like I could be stood on Newland and hear the book read in real time and in real life.
This is what captivates me about wanting to understand about them more when you read a book you can almost have an image in your mind.

Without a doubt Russ is in touch with roots of Hull, he's right there in the hotel rooms, in the garden and down in Victoria square.

The realism and reality of the words and the book is a gripping tale of Hull, like a vortex that would take anyone anywhere around there world to Hull to walk the streets.

Although this book could be played in another city the words chyme Hull lingo and tone.

I found this with Chiedu also, that's why I follow him. He's a good guy, not afraid to be who he is and I get the feeling Russ through writing is just the same.

The books got grit, some moments you don't want to read other's are like velvet going over your skin.
Like a gentle feeling, soft and warm, safe and comfortable.

I had to stop reading a little as my concentration isn't good and also I struggle to remember but I wanted to go back I just needed time that's all.

The story in my second reading bohemia was my favorite. Uncally close to home apart from the guy in the hotel room, I can relate.
The story reads about a couple who met in Welly, yep we've almost all been there and we've almost all liked someone and they walked away and you don't always get the chance to see them again and ask why.
The story goes through changes of the characters, growing up and growing apart. 
I am unsure it was unconditional love and maybe more dependency. 
That's where the unnerving part kicks in until the end though and I'm left hanging and needing answers but isn't that what a good book does? It makes you dream, hope and imagine.



I like that, I like that these stories are my streets and my feelings, I like that I know my friends and readers of my blog could read it and know what it's about.
That story is I think something we've all experienced, I wanted to add although this story is relatable it doesn't mean it's a cliche read it's not like you picked up Take a Break or put on The only way is Essex.

It's like Russ was actually in the room in the scenes set, on Bev Road and all the other places.

Russ gave me his book Kingdom and I endeavor to read it at work a few pages or as many as I can on a break from baking.
The name Kingdom is almost regal, it's bold and firm.

Reading the back of the book makes for something powerful and I will leave that read, maybe gradual blogs for another day and another time.